Mom and Larry had generously rented a minivan for us to use while in Louisiana, but we were worried about having enough vehicles to get around, so Saori and I also rented a car while we were there. I think in the end, it was a bad idea. I was nervous about driving, so I ended up overspending on the insurance and the whole thing ended up costing me about $400, and while we did end up making a divide and conquer day, I’m not convinced it was worth it.
There was nobody at the Thrifty rental counter when we showed up. No phone, no sign, no bell. Just a woman staring vacantly into space at the next counter for Enterprise. We waited a few minutes before walking over to her. “Are you...do you also handle Thrifty?” I asked. “Yes,” she answered reluctantly, dismayed we had figured it out. There are many things I could have said like “were you going to let us stand at the counter and wait forever? Are you actually paid to be here or is this some kind of punishment?” But I didn’t, because broken is the default here. Welcome to Louisiana.
The car actually highlighted a basic challenge which for me was one of the saddest aspects of the whole trip- attempting to balance on the one hand all the preparation, things to be done, and feelings of time crunch with mom and dad and Taylors wish for this to be a more typical sightseeing and game night kind of trip. We really had a lot to do and a lot of it was the kind of things that only Saori and I could do, although everyone, everyone rolled up their sleeves and dived in to help us. I wish I could have given mom one game night. But every day to the wedding I went to bed exhausted at midnight and got up exhausted at 6 am, mostly to use the undisturbed morning hours to write- to Saori’s father, my own speech, going over plans and outlining what still needed to be done.
Saori and I picked out a VW partly for the irony and drove it to Prairieville from the lot. Saori navigated me, and we made a pit stop for a cold drink along the way. Louisiana was lush, heavy, and sunny. Saori was surprised how tropical the area was. I enjoyed the drive- closer to New Orleans you speed along a raised freeway over lakes and bayou, and you can catch glimpses below of small camps of galvanized metal huts and fishermen living on the swamp.
We found the house in Prairieville with little problem and Kim and Tracy welcomed us to the house and showed us around.
The live oak tree in the front yard was bigger and live-oakier than I had imagined. It was really lovely. The house was astounding- a fantastic front porch, high, wood and brick interiors, and a surprisingly comfortable layout. We all commented later that although the house was ridiculously huge, none of the rooms felt gratuitously big. There was a good natural flow between the rooms and a surprising amount of natural light.
We went out to lunch with Tracy and Kim, to a bar and grill kind of restaurant nearby. I ordered the red beans and rice, since it was Monday, and it did not disappoint. I asked if we could cover lunch on the way in riding with Tracy, and he categorically refused. “You're on scholarship here, man” here advised me.
Back at the house, we relaxed a bit by the pool. Kim had two gallon plastic jugs in the fridge, one filled with frozen margarita and the other with another red colored frozen daiquiri, and she handed those out until mom's minivan arrived.
I rushed out to see them when I saw the van pull up. Tay looked great- his hair was actually shorter than I'd seen it in years. Mom and Larry looked a little tired but overwhelmingly happy. It was wonderful to see them again. We fixed them up as well with more frozen daiquiris as Kim took then around the backyard.
Saori and I were given Jenny's room, which was adorned with photos and decorated as a musical star’s dressing room. Tay slept in Danny's room, a much more Spartan room by comparison. Jenny, unfortunately, would not be able to make it, owing to commitments to a show in Bloomington and while we missed her sparkle at the wedding and other events, we were happy she's doing so well as an actress!The rest of the day was a blur to me- I can’t remember if we ate in or went out, I know we didn't play any games or watch TV together. I remember relentlessly and restlessly working on small projects and at some point people drifted off to bed. I was tired and stressed and I must have managed myself into bed at some point.